Here is part two of our list of the best songs released by Phoenix artists in 2016. In this part, we will reveal the top 25 songs, including what we're crowning the best single of the year. You can read about songs 50 through 26 on the list if you missed yesterday's installment.
When I first heard "Autopilot," I
24. Emby Alexander — "In Your Doorstep Bleeding"
It appears that Michael Alexander is just competing with himself at this point for writing and performing some of the most adventurous indie pop in Arizona, if not the States. The song is another instant classic in his canon of subterranean hits, akin to the likes of "I Don't Mind If You Call Us Friends" and "Sleeping In The Library." Alexander seems to be playing with interesting instrument combinations here, a combination of electric guitar, lap steel, and a choir of backing vocals that create a bit of an angelic vibe to the entire affair.
23. MRCH — "Glitter McQueen"
I feel pretty confident in saying that "Glitter McQueen" is the best song MRCH has put out all year. As with most of MRCH's singles, the song also comes with a fantastic video that's as much nostalgic kitsch as it is
22. Haymarket Squares— "Let's Start A Riot"
"Let's Start A Riot" is the anthem for anyone that is dissatisfied with the 9-to-5 grind that is their day job. For the subject matter alone, not to mention how well it's executed, this may well be my favorite Haymarket song ever. Who hasn't been at this point at a job? Musically, the band remains the ever-familiar
21. Injury Reserve— "Oh, Shit!!!"
"Oh, Shit!!!" was one hell of a way to kick off the promotion of the forthcoming album from Injury Reserve. The slightly creepy piano begins the song and provides an eerie backdrop that keeps you on edge, if only in the back of your mind. Still, the raps here are some of the finest coming out of Phoenix, and this song is catchy as all hell. It's funny, insightful, actually fun, and just a party monster waiting to happen. Even the woozy autotune ending seems more like an intoxicating creative stroke rather than anything to the song's detriment.
20. Nanami Ozone— "Desire"
The song is a great introduction to Nanami Ozone's sound now that they've found themselves. In this case, the "Desire" in question seems to be for youth and wanting to feel like you did when you got turned on as a teenager — turned on by anything and obviously filled with burning desire. It's a reflection you face in your 20s at some point: that things don't feel like they used to feel, and somehow you have to reignite. Mo Neuharth handles the vocals on this one; she perfectly lays them across this absolutely dizzying guitar.
19. Young's Modulus— "Laces Untied"
Young's Modulus plays some damn good post-grunge alternative rock in the vein of the earliest Kings of Leon records. Lead singer Mike Johnson has that husky, wood-treated voice to meet that sound perfectly with thunderous drums, ringing guitars, and a thumping bass, making it heartfelt and passionate all the while. At least that's how their song "Laces Untied" feels to me. It's not a moody piece in any way — this is upbeat, danceable rock, but it's got enough grit to it that it sticks to your ribs. It's simply a great rock song.
18. The Lonesome Wilderness — "Alright"
For a few years now the Lonesome Wilderness have been dazzling their audience with a fine blend of indie rock sounds akin to the Dandy Warhols, Brian Jonestown Massacre, and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, but on their new single "Alright," they expand their sonic horizons to include intensely Beatles-
17. Paper Foxes — "Strawberry Lashes"
Paper Foxes are a far different beast than when they started, featuring a completely new rhythm section since their last record. "Strawberry Lashes" is one dizzying track that
16. No Volcano— "Blackout"
No Volcano rocks out on this one, bringing back the power of proto-punk influences. Somehow, the band is able to evoke that energy, that building zeitgeist, that led to punk with the likes of the Stooges' tribal rhythms and Television's art-rock restraint. Chris Kennedy's furious drums that open "Blackout" immediately grab you by the throat, driving you right into the brilliant guitars and finally the poetic artistry of Jim Andreas' vocals. Edgy, neurotic, driven, the song pulses with a life all of its own. It's smart art rock for anyone that loves bands born from suburban garages.
15. Diners — "Fifteen On A Skateboard"
"Fifteen On A Skateboard" begins with the unmistakable sound of a skateboard before it drifts off into a dreamy, swooning pop number that is as about as easygoing on your ears as possible. This is music drawn straight out of an appreciation for 1970s radio pop, Burt Bacharach records, and a hint of Friends-era Beach Boys. It's a perfect tune for a hot summer day by the pool. The instrumentation and production are beyond anything Diners
14. Dadadoh and WOLFZiE — "What I Got"
WOLFZiE (Brandyn Jenkins) and Dadadoh (Bryan Preston) produced this song together, written by J. Alexander and mastered by Scott Mitting, with a super low-key feel to the music and a confessional flow to the lyrics. The song itself seems to be more in line with WOLFZiE's sonic experimentation more so than Dadadoh's straight-up hip-hop sound. The key here is the grooving, ambient music providing the backdrop, while the powerful lyrics are delivered like a spoken word poem. The entire song is great, but I would recommend focusing on the lyrics and especially the chorus, which is infectious and clever.
13. Cait Brennan — "Madame Pompadour"
Of all of the tracks on Cait Brennan's masterful debut album Debutante, I have to say that “Madame Pompadour” is the one that just stays in my head for days. Every song on the album has something to it that will stick with you, but this one
12. Weird Radicals — "Sleepwalker"
"Sleepwalker" is the final single of the year from newcomers Weird Radicals. Once more it's a stunning track of pure power-pop enjoyment. This is the kind of song Boyce and Hart would have been proud to write, and it's definitely Weird Radicals' most Beatlesque effort so far. Clearly, their adoration for the pop sound of the '60s and '70s is guiding them and beautifully so; their quirky indie spark keeps them from sounding too much like a revivalist act, though. At the same
11. Citrus Clouds — "Imagination"
"Imagination" begins with drums that recall the Jesus & Mary Chain and a bass line reminiscent of Joy Division, before Erick Pineda's brilliant guitar builds up to the point where he delivers his best vocals to date and a maelstrom of guitars explode. It's a dizzying, hypnotic number, as nearly everything Citrus Clouds makes has been, but this has a catchy pop element that has been more subtle in their past efforts. Still, the breaks where there aren't a hurricane of guitars and feedback are some of the most enjoyable, because they can rage with the fury of the apocalypse but bring it down to show off their songwriting skills.
10. Playboy Manbaby— "You Can Be A Fascist Too"
"You Can Be A Fascist Too" is the opening track for the highly anticipated, absurdly delayed Don't Let It Be album set to be released early next year. It's a song told from the perspective of a fascist and delivered with no lack of sardonic wit. Musically, it's one of Playboy Manbaby's most solidly aggressive tunes, and it's good to know that punk and vitriol are still very much alive in the capable hands of the band that has been declared the Best of Phoenix. This is music for slam dancing and moshing.
9. Foresteater— "Very Friendly People"
"Very Friendly People" is the lead track on debut record from
8. Bear Ghost— "
7. Harper and The Moths— "Nothing From Me"
This is possibly my favorite track from the band since "Chemicals" or even "Nighttime Tremors." It fits right in place with those singles and the sounds they began to explore on their Rock.Pop.Soul record, mixing rock elements with late-'70s disco leanings. It's got more swagger to it than some of their recent singles, and that's what makes it stand out. Harper Lines' hypnotic vocal delivery turns rapid-fire on the verses, and it's one of his best vocals to date. Here, he is channeling his inner Michael Hutchence.
6. Fairy Bones— "Pink Plastic Cups"
Before Fairy Bones went on hiatus for the summer, "Pink Plastic Cups" was quickly becoming the new highlight in their live set. It was clearly an immediate single and I was glad to see that it was one of two tunes (along with "8 Ball") that made the cut for their twin single release this year. Somewhere last spring I had declared it my new favorite Fairy Bones tune. and that still stands. Beginning with Matthew Foos' bass drum, a guitar line from Robert
5. El West— "Thin Air"
I don't usually get goosebumps when I listen to a song on headphones for the first time, I usually save that for live shows, but in the case of "Thin Air" by El West I had goosebumps for the entire four-and-a-half minutes. El West sounds like nothing going on in Phoenix these days. When I try to decide what element I like the best I can't decide between Powell's voice, Thomas Brenneman's frenetic guitar, Rickey Powell's powerful bass groove, or Marty Welker's rapid-fire drumming. The damn thing impresses me at every level.
4. Blank Waves— "All In You"
I don't often offer up live tracks or ever consider them in lists like this, but this is an exception. When all is said and done, I think "All In You" is one of the finest songs of the year. I'm not even sure if the magic captured on this live recording will ever translate to a studio version, but whether it's the minimalist drum kit, the retro keyboard/organ work, or the damnably infectious vocals on this track, every moment of this tune will keep you grooving. It still has that tripped-out Robyn Hitchcock-meets-Animal Collective sound to it, but there is a catchy, pop aesthetic that makes this a standout track. Since Blank Waves posted this song back in March, I'm pretty sure I've listened to it nearly a thousand times. I never tire of it, and I want everyone that loves local music to get an aural taste of this amazing earworm.
3. decker.— "The Phantom"
Even at the improbable length exceeding six minutes, "The Phantom" is the catchiest tune on decker.'s 2016 album, Snake River Blues. Decker himself blames this on the influence of a minor obsession with Tom Petty while working on his new record, and while you can see that as a starting point decker. takes that influence and crafts into something completely and uniquely his own. "The Phantom" is the longest track on the record and it may well be the band's finest moment, whether that was intentional or not. It does not sound like it's going to be a hook-heavy, ear-loving brain invader, but by the time Decker sings "Do you remember baby," it sure as hell does. By then, it's too late. Your brain is just going to play that chorus over and over until you do it's bidding and listen again.
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2. The Sink or Swim— "Blame It On Me"
Last September the Sink Or Swim released their second EP of the year with High Tides, and it's really more three singles. In the early '90s, this would be called a Maxi-Single, featuring two or three A-Sides. "Glass Eye" was the first one to really catch my ear, but after a few dozen listens to the collection, "Blame It On Me" seems to have made a nest in my head.This song is always a stunner in their live set. Part of the reason is that this is a vocal masterpiece for lead singer Nate
1. Wyves— "Spoils of War"